Mark Winkler Sings Bobby Troup
“ As a writer I've really been influenced by my generations group of great singer-songwriters... But as a jazz singer, it's definitely Mark Murphy ”
All About Jazz: You've recently released Mark Winkler Sings Bobby Troup. What motivated you to devote an entire CD to Bobby's works?
Mark Winkler: I really wasn't planning to do a whole CD of Bobby Troup tunes, I was looking for some outside material to fill out a CD of my originals. His work was always something I'd been meaning to check out a little more, and when I did, I fell in love with it-and I couldn't narrow it down to just 3 tunes.... I could hardly narrow it down to 12 songs.
AAJ: His songwriting style seems like a natural fit for your "cool hipster" style that you've developed over many recordings. At what point during your career did you first discover Bobby Troup's works? In what ways has he influenced you?
MW: I didn't really hear a lot of Troup till a few years ago-that's when I discovered him. I went on the internet and purchased a couple of his CDs. So it's been a relatively new occurrence for me. I was attracted to his music, because I was aware we both had that casual, almost talking jazz style of singing in common-but I was totally unprepared for how much I related to his songs.
The hipster angle to it is fun, when I sing something like "Lemon Twist," for example, I can't help not feeling cool, and for a Jewish boy from LA that's quite an accomplishment. But what really attracted me to Bobby was the intelligence, craft and wit in his lyrics. He obviously was influenced by Johnny Mercer, but he really had his own voice-which was a little quirkier and was very "dry."
I couldn't believe people weren't singing his tunes! There are so many great ones. For example, I'm only the second recorded version of "Hungry Man"-that's a great song. Those lyrics rank right up there with the best. I've been trying to spread the word-and I've been busy making copies of my lead sheets for other singers. I'm so tired of the same old jazz songs-great as they are.
AAJ: Troup's "Route 66" and "Girl Talk," both included on your CD, are pretty well-known songs, but many of his other works are probably unfamiliar to many listeners. What songs in his catalog stand out for you? Are there any CDs of his works that you would particularly recommend to people who would like to hear more?
MW: As I mentioned, I love "Lemon Twist" and "Hungry Man." I also think that "Three Bears" is just the best-so clever. "Meaning of the Blues" is a fantastic tune and lyric. The lyric "Blues were only torch songs fashioned for impulsive ingenues"-can it get better than that? Every time I sing it, I imagine I'm in some 50s supper club in New York, in a tuxedo with my tie loosened singing to Mabel Mercer or Dorothy Parker. But now that I'm a card carrying "Troupaphile" there's other ones I haven't recorded yet that I love. I really dig "Won't Someone Please Belong to Me" which was recorded by the much missed Teri Thornton, and some songs Julie London recorded: "Nice Girls Don't Stay For Breakfast," "The Blues Is All I Ever Had" and "Daddy." Oh, and of course "One October Morning" which I did record, and which is very strange but touching. If any singers out there need lead sheets just e-mail my website (markwinklermusic.com) and I'll send them to you.
The CD I most like of Bobby's is The Feeling of Jazz - it's the one that I played constantly for a year. There's also this great LP called Do Re Mi that I like - pops and scratches and all.
AAJ: In preparation for this recording, I understand that you have researched Bobby Troup extensively, including interviewing his children and former songwriting partner, Matt Dennis. What did you learn?
MW: Well, I felt like the reporter in "Citizen Kane" in a way, talking to his family and associates was my way of getting to know Bobby Troup the man-putting the pieces together-and I came away with the knowledge he was a really nice guy. Which pleased me, because as you know talent and character aren't exactly synonymous in Show Biz. The best story was told to me by one of his musical cohorts, Bob Enevoldsen. I went to his house one October morning and found the hipster octogenarian drinking Scotch and smoking unfiltered Kools. He was a gas! He told me that in WWll Bobby was an officer in the Marine Corp and stationed in North Carolina. Bobby being a college grad was an officer and was assigned to an all-black battalion. Bobby was amazed at the conditions his men were living under-especially since the white battalion on the base was doing just fine. But by the end of his tour of duty, the black battalion had new barracks, a tennis court, a club house, a jazz orchestra and even a miniature golf course. I don't know how he did it, but he did it. Some of those men became life long friends of Bobby's.